Comment of the Week: ‘Distracted walking’ is the ‘all lives matter’ of transportation

(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s be too long since we put the spotlight on one of your great comments. Let’s try to do this more often shall we? If you see a great comment, just hit “reply” and write “comment of the week”. If you do that, I can find the best comments in a quick search.

OK, onto the comment…

Last week (or so) we highlighted a noteworthy exchange at Portland city council during a discussion about the bureau of transportation’s vision zero program. As city staff outlined their approach of “shared responsibility” and made it clear that people using cars have to do a better job not running into people outside of cars, Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty expressed discomfort. She said some of PBOT’s vision zero work is making roads “confusing” and is “making people lose their minds”. Hardesty also instructed PBOT to spend more time on people who walk around with their heads buried in their phones, saying people who are distracted by electronic devices are a “huge issue.”

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Reader Glenn II wasn’t having it. Here’s his response to Hardesty’s comments:

“Look, I feel disgust and pity for people glued to their phones as much as anybody, but ‘distracted walking’ is not a thing as far as I’m concerned. ‘Distracted walking’ is the ‘all lives matter’ of transportation — true in principle, but too often twisted around and used by members of an entrenched and powerful majority, who are responsible for most of the problems — to minimize and shut down the concerns of the minority.

Distracted walking collision: “Oh excuse me,” and get on with your day.

Distracted driving collision: “She is survived by her husband Chad and sons Chad Jr. and Jeremy. Services will be at Johnson’s Funeral Home.”

So no, f— me very much, I’m not falling for that one.”

We have yet to hear a clarification or follow-up from Commissioner Hardesty.

Thank you Glenn and everyone else who chimed in here and on Facebook. As Portland struggles to stem a spate of serious and fatal crashes, how we talk about this problem matters. Whether you agree or disagree with Commissioner Hardesty, her comment spurred an important dialogue that should make our policies and actions more effective.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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